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Airplane Skin - German or Soviet?

Article about: I bought this section of airplane skin from a collector about two years ago. I've bought a lot of things from him over the years when he's cleaning out his own collection. I got it real chea

  1. #1

    Default Airplane Skin - German or Soviet?

    I bought this section of airplane skin from a collector about two years ago. I've bought a lot of things from him over the years when he's cleaning out his own collection. I got it real cheap because he admitted he couldn't tell me much about it, just that it was dug at Stalingrad so he assumed it was from a WWII German or Soviet plane. I just think it's a neat looking piece to add to my collection, but I've always wondered about it.

    I was curious if there is a way to figure out whether it is German or Soviet made? Maybe from the rivets? Or the gauge of the metal? Color of paint? Maybe from the construction of the metal armature piece on the back? Sure, knowing what kind of airplane that it came from would be neat too, but I'll just be happy with knowing what country manufactured it. The overall piece is roughly 28"x12".

    Any opinions, help, or suggestions would be appreciated. Or even if you have a reference to an aircraft buff somewhere else. Thank you.

    Front

    Airplane Skin - German or Soviet?

    Close-Up of Front

    Airplane Skin - German or Soviet?

    Airplane Skin - German or Soviet?

    Airplane Skin - German or Soviet?

    Rivets, Front

    Airplane Skin - German or Soviet?

    Back

    Airplane Skin - German or Soviet?

    Back, Close-Up

    Airplane Skin - German or Soviet?

    Airplane Skin - German or Soviet?

    Rivet, Back

    Airplane Skin - German or Soviet?

    Armature, Close-Up

    Airplane Skin - German or Soviet?

    Airplane Skin - German or Soviet?

    Thickness of Metal, Top-View

    Airplane Skin - German or Soviet?

    Thanks again,
    Robyn

  2. #2

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    Been looking up aircraft rivets. Don't know if any of this information could help. The outer rivets (to me) appear to be Brazier rivets and the inside are Flat rivets.

    Airplane Skin - German or Soviet?

    Airplane Skin - German or Soviet?

    The description of those two seem to match as well. This information is probably very basic and might not be helpful at all, but I'm trying.

    Edit: Also, the rivets don't appear to have head markings, though the front rivets are harder to tell because of the paint over them.

  3. #3

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    I’d guess it was Soviet, based on my own collection of aircraft relics. On all the pieces of skin I own, German planes used flat rivets for external fixings. Only internal airframe components used domed rivets. That applies to Junkers, anyway, as all my aircraft parts are from Stukas.

    Regards, B.B.
    ''Everyday you think of living. We are born to die, but I appreciate life. We live day by day, and I always say: yesterday is history, today's reality, and tomorrow's a dream.' -- Henry Flescher, Holocaust Survivor -- March 14, 1924 - August 29, 2018

  4. #4

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    BB-

    Thank you so much for answering! I did read somewhere tonight about the Germans mainly using flush rivets on the outside of their planes, at least for Messerschmitt and Heinkel, it said. Good to know that about the Junkers too. There was an aircraft forum thread from another site that brought that up about flush rivets, but then some members were saying that that wasn't the case for all of their planes (so I guess that doesn't completely rule out German, unfortunately for me).

    But, yes, based on that information, I was leaning toward it being Soviet, so I've shifted my search in that direction. I'm glad to have your opinion on it being Soviet, too! I'm so far out of my depth in knowing airplane construction, so I'm glad I might be on the right track. I am having a very hard time finding information on Soviet airplane construction though. For the time being I was focusing my research on the armature on the back, which in this case I believe is the Stringers of the plane. Mine appears to be "C" or "C-channel" Stringers (who knew there could be so many different kinds of stringer shapes?). I was hoping that could narrow down my search some, but it hasn't so far.

    BB, if you happen to have any Soviet pieces that have similar stringers on yours, would you mind sharing a picture?

    Also, I appreciate anyone else that might have some insight if they have a hunch. Thank you! This has been one of those mystery pieces in my collection that I like to try to pick apart every now and then.

    -Robyn

  5. #5

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    Unfortunately, I only have German and British aircraft parts in my collection. I have an airframe panel from a Bristol Blenheim that also uses flush rivets, but no Soviet parts of any kind to compare this one to. Without provenance, you'll probably never be able to identify the specific aircraft type this came from. Especially as it was recovered from the area around Stalingrad, which would make researching specific plane crashes very difficult indeed.

    Sorry I can't be of more help!

    B.B.
    ''Everyday you think of living. We are born to die, but I appreciate life. We live day by day, and I always say: yesterday is history, today's reality, and tomorrow's a dream.' -- Henry Flescher, Holocaust Survivor -- March 14, 1924 - August 29, 2018

  6. #6

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    No, you've been great help, thank you! I know that figuring out specific aircraft is very much a needle-in-a-haystack situation, and that's okay...not what I am concerned over. I was just hoping to find some validation of the nationality of the plane based on its construction. Specific aircraft type and/or which plane crash of Stalingrad would be next to impossible!

    I truly appreciate your input!

  7. #7

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    I appreciate the kind words. Thank you.

    I did some digging with the Google-machine, and I found some photographs of an Ilyushin Il-2 on display in a Serbian museum. In this picture, you can see some domed rivets very similar to those on your relic! (Bottom right, below the flat-riveted plate).

    Airplane Skin - German or Soviet?

    Regards, B.B.
    ''Everyday you think of living. We are born to die, but I appreciate life. We live day by day, and I always say: yesterday is history, today's reality, and tomorrow's a dream.' -- Henry Flescher, Holocaust Survivor -- March 14, 1924 - August 29, 2018

  8. #8

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    Ah, yes! Good catch there! I've been looking through various aircraft online too. It's surprisingly hard to find good close-ups of WWII aircraft rivets, haha. I guess that's not something that is brought up that often. Though, I admit, I have always been a fan of rivets...thought they were SO cool looking as a kid. The flush ones kind of take all the fun out of the aesthetic for me...who cares about aerodynamics compared to style, right?

    On a side note, I've gone back to that WWII aircraft forum I found information on rivets earlier and posted on there. I'm hoping to pick their brains as well. I do think you're right though...it's bound to be Soviet. Only other thing I could think is if it was a US-made plane that was sent to USSR. Would only be a small chance, and I highly doubt it would be my piece. I did read somewhere that we sent a small number of US aircraft over there for them prior to our entrance to WWII and then right after. I'll have to look for that again (I think I remember which book it was). Could have sworn reading some were used for Stalingrad.

    In any case, I'm enjoying the hunt! Thanks!

  9. #9

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    A fairly large number of aircraft were supplied by the United States to the Soviet Union during the war, so there's actually a pretty decent chance that this relic is from a Lend-Lease plane. Below are the totals of some of the aircraft supplied by the U.S. to the USSR during the war (taken from Wikipedia, so take them with a pinch of salt).

    Fighters

    Bell P-39 Airacobra -- 5007 supplied, 4719 reached Soviet Union
    Bell P-63 Kingcobra -- 2421 supplied
    Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk/Tomahawk -- 2425 supplied
    Republic P-47 Thunderbolt -- 195 supplied

    Bombers & Attack Aircraft

    Douglas A-20 Havoc -- 2771 supplied
    North American B-25 Mitchell -- 862 supplied

    Britain also supplied the USSR with 2952 Hawker Hurricanes and 1331 Spitfires. These are the totals up to the end of the war, but a good portion of them would have been in Soviet hands by the time of the Battle of Stalingrad, so it's not too much of a stretch to imagine this relic coming from a Lend-Lease aircraft.

    Regards, B.B.
    ''Everyday you think of living. We are born to die, but I appreciate life. We live day by day, and I always say: yesterday is history, today's reality, and tomorrow's a dream.' -- Henry Flescher, Holocaust Survivor -- March 14, 1924 - August 29, 2018

  10. #10

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    Thanks for those numbers. I haven't had a chance to look for it in the book I was thinking of, but I do specifically remember the Curtiss P-40 mentioned in the Lend-Lease. Good to note that about the British planes too. So many of the US planes' rivets looked similar to what my piece has, just like the Soviet plane you posted earlier. Needless to say, I'm fairly confident we're looking at an Allied aircraft since it sounds like the Germans used mostly flush rivets. Good deal. I'm still hoping to one day pinpoint exactly which country made it, but I am happy about the knowledge I've gained just researching this piece. That's always the best part about collecting to me. I feel like the armature piece, the C-channel stringer, is a good clue if I could find someone that really knows WWII aircraft construction. We'll see if anyone on that other forum ever says anything. After I finish my current book on the Asian-Pacific War, I think I'll look into a good Battle of Stalingrad book to read.

    Seriously though, I really appreciate that you went down this rabbit hole with me. It was nice having someone to bounce ideas off of and to help confirm some of my suspicions as I was going along. Thanks, BB!

    -Robyn

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